Tag Archives: online community

India leads the way in online cricket communities

Social networking and cricket? That's wicket!

In England the Cricket World Cup just put a dampener on our Ashes victory. Defeats against Ireland and Bangladesh embarrassed Strauss, Swanny and co. and we limped out against Sri Lanka in the Quarter Final after the viewing public had generally lost interest.

Not so for the rest of the world, however, as up to 1.25 billion people watched co-hosts India beat Pakistan in the semi final, one of sport’s biggest ever global TV audiences and almost certainly the highest audience for the cricket world itself. Cricket is big business, especially on the Indian sub-continent where the Indian Premier League is quickly becoming one of the most profitable leagues in world sport today.

Riding this wave are Digital Vidya, a New Dehli-based media firm, who have set up the world’s first cricket social networking site Soch.la under the slogan “Why watch cricket alone?”. Currently only working with Facebook, the site will soon allow members to create their own accounts and sync in other social networking platforms including Twitter. It allows cricket fans to “follow” and be “followed”, allowing their reaction to be seen and responded to by other cricket fans who are following the same match in other locations across the world. On top of this, the site concurrently provides users with score updates and uses opinion polls to gauge viewer thoughts on the match.

The site has already had thousands of users signing up, especially in the lead up to today’s blockbuster match. However, the platform and interface remain very rudimentary and the logo, featuring what resembles a cabbage patch kid in New York, a cabbage patch kid in Bangalore and, for some unknown reason, a gormless cricket-watching Ron Weasley in Dehli, is pretty bizarre. Nevertheless, this demonstrates a niche in social networking and online communities to provide specialist subject information in a live-text format alongside user-generated content and specialist communication via social networking. It also gives a further demonstration of how India, one of Facebook’s fastest growing markets, is not only adopting, but revolutionising online communities.

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Filed under Beth Adamson, online communities

Leading your readers

As Robert Niles from The Online Journalism Review, insightfully said yesterday “writing in any interactive environment is an act of leadership.” You need to grab the leadership of your community with both hands and set the tone, style and informative model for your readers, otherwise someone else will.

In true leadership style Niles has written six snippets of advice – which he has invited us all to share with you – to encourage well informed, rewarding and interesting writing from your readers when they engage in your community.

1) Write what you know

The best posts come from people writing about a personal experience. Tell us about an activity you’re deeply involved with, a subject you’ve studied in-depth or an experience you’ve had. Maybe it’s just a review of a new restaurant you’ve visited, or a place you visited on vacation. Whatever you write about, forget for a moment about what others might say – or have said – about something and just tell us your story.

2) Don’t tell us if something’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’

Whenever a writer declares something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, the piece becomes about the writer, and not the thing the writer is writing about. Whenever you read a review like that from someone you don’t know, don’t you start thinking about whether you can trust this reviewer or not? So leave those types of words out of your writing.

3) Describe, in detail

Instead, describe your experience, using as many clear details as you can. Put us in the situation with you, and describe as you would to a friend who wasn’t there. Take us through the experience, step by step. Consider the fives senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – and describe each, as appropriate to whatever you’re writing about. Consider these statements:

“The hamburger was terrible.”

“The hamburger looked and tasted like a McDonald’s heat-lamp refugee, thin and wilted, but it cost £12 instead.”

I’d much rather read the second post – it keeps the focus on the burger itself, rather than the writer’s reaction to it. I’ll certainly remember the second statement more than I would the first, too. And I’d be far more likely to forward it to my friends. Keep that in mind when you’re writing. Detailed descriptions really help other readers feel like they are there with you, sharing this experience.

4) Link, don’t copy

If you find something else online you want to share with other readers, don’t just copy and paste it to the site. Link to it instead. That way, other readers can see the original source for themselves.

(In following Niles’ advice myself, read the rest of his article here.)

5) Explain why you link

Whenever you link to something, though, explain why you’re linking to it. What’s it about? Why is it important to you? Why do you think it would be important to the rest of us? You explanation helps start a conversation about the link.

(I linked to his article as I believe it is extremely useful for anyone wanting to learn more about this topic. Not only is his article insightful, the entire site is a great read).

6) Respect, and respond

When other readers share their experiences on the site, respect them. If you don’t feel that their experience reflects your experience with the same event/subject/place, then respond by sharing your experience with it.

Again, leave out those judgmental words (especially the negative ones: ‘terrible,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘awful,’ etc.), and write instead about your experience. That helps keeps everyone’s focus on the subject under discussion, and not on a emerging flame war between readers.

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Filed under Aleeza Khan, online communities

Simplicity in support groups

Online support groups are the kind of community that everyone needs at some point.

Whether it’s a tricky question that needs answering or you need to figure out the best way to do something technical or you just need to work that lovely new camera you just bought, everyone has been to an online support forum.

I’ve definitely done this to answer technical questions I need answering about my mobile, camera and laptop, but I can safely say I have never asked a question, I’ve simply scoured the forum to find the answer the the question I know has been asked before.

Cisco posted this great video giving just that advice, as well as four other top tips to simply and quickly benefit the most out of online support groups.

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Filed under Aleeza Khan, online communities

Creating an online community from scratch: EastBound Magazine

City University’s annual XCity Magazine which is distributed to City Alumni, this year enhanced their online community through interactive features on the website. This included awards that meant the reader became a part of the magazine as they got involved through voting and online conversation. They were very successful in doing this and building on a readership that has been growing for decades.

However, what happens when you try and build an online community without any previous readership established?

This is the challenge a group of us faced recently when we set out to start a new East London area magazine called EastBound.

In this case, before we could even make our site interactive we had to establish an audience and then from this a community. When starting an online community from scratch there has to be a reason for your target reader to visit your site.

Sure- polls, competitions, comments, guest blogs and lively discussion is the ideal but before you can get that going you need people visiting your site in the first place.

What EastBound taught us:

Establish a need. There needs to be a reason that a user is going to visit the website or blog. In EastBound’s case aswell as having features that would interest our reader we put up event listings that they would need. By making the website a place to refer to for directions and what is going on each night in East London we drew in users.

Entertain and sustain. Keep the user’s interested with features, interviews etc that they want to read so they spend longer on your site.

Visuals are important– users aren’t going to stick around and interact if the site is dull to look at regardless of how good the content is. Use pictures, logos and colour to create a distinctive style that they can then on associate (positively) with it.

Encourage interaction and interact yourself– once you have established an audience make them into a community through polls, surveys, posts that encourage comment and comps. To start the ball rolling, start making conversation yourself. Make sure that you reply to any tweets or comments.

Use twitter, facebook and other social platform media to reach out to new users and keep contact with current members of the community. Asking questions about topical issues guarantees a response.

In simple terms- make it as easy as possible to be interactive.

The finished EastBound website

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Filed under Katy Balls, online communities

Bar Karma: The world’s first television programme created by an online community

Bar Karma - the love child of an online community

The world’s first television programme devised from an online community premieres tonight in the US. Bar Karma was conceived a year ago by members of a site started by The Sims creator Will Wright.

Everything from plot lines to costumes were discussed and voted on by participants on Current’s Creative Studio site, which has had over 12 million visits.

The result is a drama set in a bar at the end of the universe, starring William Sanderson from True Blood and Deadwood, and is being shown on the ET network.

The production company Worldwide Biggies now has ultimate creative control over the project, but producers are said to regularly seek advice from their online community.

Online collaborators submit plots for episodes to the site and three plots are chosen to be voted on. Participants whose stories are chosen get credited on the episode.

We are beyond excited to see if a whole community can deliver something not only new and interesting but cohesive and sustainable. Watch this space.

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Filed under Beth Adamson, online communities

Online Communities: A Beginner’s Guide

While interest in online communities  may be on the rise, for some (including myself a month ago) the concept might need a little bit of explaining.

Q: What is an online community?

A: An online community is a group of people with interests in common who use the internet to communicate, get to know each other and work together.

Q: What are some examples of online communities?

A: Online communities are everywhere on the internet. Facebook has the biggest online community while other online communities include comment forums on news/magazine sites, blog readers and specific interest internet forums.

Q: Why is it important to manage your online community?

A: If an online community becomes unhappy with the site that hosts them they may well leave that site. Members of online communities are quite fluid as they don’t have too heavy ties with any host site. This means it is important to make sure you’re community is happy- otherwise they might leave you!

Q: Any particular reason members of an online community would become unhappy?

A: This could happen for many reasons. One example is if the members felt ignored or if they disapproved of things happening on the host site. For example, the online community that is the discussion forum on the Guardian website might see members leaving if the pages were filled with racist comments that the Guardian didn’t remove.

Q: How can I make my online community a happy one?

A: Read this blog regularly!

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Filed under Katy Balls, online communities

Live event – Wannabe Hacks

The wannabe hacks boys (and girl) hosted their first event on Friday night at The Wellington in Waterloo. It was a great success, and an even greater example of how they have managed their online community.

The five hacks got together and created a blog that gives a peek into the lives of aspiring journos. In their own words: “Wannabe Hacks isn’t your typical blog about journalism or trying to get into the media industry. The difference with Wannabe Hacks is that it is written by five graduates actually trying to do just that.” Check out the wannabe hacks for yourself.

It hit the ground running and has been the talk of the City Journalism department as well as many bloggers and important people in the online community. They maximised their online community through Twitter, Facebook,  comments on their website, guest bloggers and of course huge search engine optimisation (SEO) with their name (they appear first in google searches for wannabe hacks).

So, what next to boost their popularity other than hosting an event? The evening was swimming, with networking students, well known bloggers and new age journalism big wigs. And of course the booze was a-flowing.

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Filed under Aleeza Khan, online communities